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Deuteronomy 16:21--17:7

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16:21 You must not plant any kind of tree as a sacred Asherah pole 1  near the altar of the Lord your God which you build for yourself. 16:22 You must not erect a sacred pillar, 2  a thing the Lord your God detests. 17:1 You must not sacrifice to him 3  a bull or sheep that has a blemish or any other defect, because that is considered offensive 4  to the Lord your God. 17:2 Suppose a man or woman is discovered among you – in one of your villages 5  that the Lord your God is giving you – who sins before the Lord your God 6  and breaks his covenant 17:3 by serving other gods and worshiping them – the sun, 7  moon, or any other heavenly bodies which I have not permitted you to worship. 8  17:4 When it is reported to you and you hear about it, you must investigate carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing 9  is being done in Israel, 17:5 you must bring to your city gates 10  that man or woman who has done this wicked thing – that very man or woman – and you must stone that person to death. 11  17:6 At the testimony of two or three witnesses they must be executed. They cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 17:7 The witnesses 12  must be first to begin the execution, and then all the people 13  are to join in afterward. In this way you will purge evil from among you.

1 tn Heb “an Asherah, any tree.”

sn Sacred Asherah pole. This refers to a tree (or wooden pole) dedicated to the worship of Asherah, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. See also Deut 7:5.

2 sn Sacred pillar. This refers to the stelae (stone pillars; the Hebrew term is מַצֵּבֹת, matsevot) associated with Baal worship, perhaps to mark a spot hallowed by an alleged visitation of the gods. See also Deut 7:5.

3 tn Heb “to the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

4 tn The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (toevah, “an abomination”; cf. NAB) describes persons, things, or practices offensive to ritual or moral order. See M. Grisanti, NIDOTTE 4:314-18; see also the note on the word “abhorrent” in Deut 7:25.

5 tn Heb “gates.”

6 tn Heb “does the evil in the eyes of the Lord your God.”

7 tc The MT reads “and to the sun,” thus including the sun, the moon, and other heavenly spheres among the gods. However, Theodotion and Lucian read “or to the sun,” suggesting perhaps that the sun and the other heavenly bodies are not in the category of actual deities.

8 tn Heb “which I have not commanded you.” The words “to worship” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

9 tn Heb “an abomination” (תּוֹעֵבָה); see note on the word “offensive” in v. 1.

10 tn Heb “gates.”

11 tn Heb “stone them with stones so that they die” (KJV similar); NCV “throw stones at that person until he dies.”

12 tn Heb “the hand of the witnesses.” This means the two or three witnesses are to throw the first stones (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

13 tn Heb “the hand of all the people.”



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